OK, so I've posted a "stay in The Episcopal Church (TEC)" piece and a "Get out of TEC now" piece tonight. What's my deal?
I gave very serious thought to leaving a couple of years ago. In a number of ways, God has restrained that impulse.
1) God's used the Church of the Good Shepherd itself. Like many South Dakota congregations, it's hung in there in some very lean times. The people are accustomed to facing difficulties by pulling together. I've come to understand congregations here a bit more over these few years. "Splitting" is not in their mindset, and to split a small congregation is to wind up with two non-viable cliques rather than a new church anyway. The Christian virtue - the faith, hope and love - of Good Shepherd's people is a strong reason to stand fast. Even with some losses, God continues to bring new folks and is setting some exciting direction for the parish.
2) God's second restraint is the Diocese of South Dakota. This is a unique place. For all of TEC's cynical clucking about "diversity," here's a Diocese where it exists. Native American, Euro-American and, increasingly, African immigrant; city, rural and Reservation; multigenerational in some places. The Diocese has awesome potential to show forth the church as Christ would want it to be. And I would add to that the patience of most of the clergy and people in some bitter conflicts we've had, and the budding hope for the episcopate of John Tarrant - including his decision to make Good Shepherd his very first visit as Bishop.
3) God's third restraint is my family. With a younger autistic son and a wife who isn't able to work, I've managed to secure top medical help through a second job and we've been blessed in a city with good public schools (special education included) and private services. Our older son has flourished here and will finish high school in May. As I've mentioned before, I take the warning of I Timothy 5:8 seriously, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
So the strong likelihood, as disgusted as I am with TEC's self-proclaimed "national leadership," is that I will continue on here unless booted out.
But I have dear friends - no, more than that - blood brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The hissy fits of church poobahs in New York or wherever will not dictate my Christian fellowship. This is the church, not some middle school lunch room. And so I will be involved with ACNA folks, through the TEC/ACNA overlap provided by the American Anglican Council, through simple affectionate connections, and perhaps in joint work for the Gospel that doesn't violate any official boundaries or responsibilities.
Clear as mud, baby. But that's where you'll find me unless the Lord issues new orders. Your prayers are always appreciated.